This is an article that was blessed to be in my Gmail inbox for my personal inspection. It is written for the illustrious Burning Spear by our brother, Lion, Khairi Akili. No disclaimer necessary. Please enjoy.
We are nearing the end of “resolution season.” Every year, three-quarters of the people who make New Year’s resolutions break them, and nearly half of those do so within the month of January. However, we are not inspired by a date on a calendar so much as the pursuit of self-mastery. Each journey begins with a single step, and we are here to help you with the first step to a fit lifestyle.
Before attempting any type of physical activity, I encourage you to see a health care provider, if possible, to get a better understanding of your current level of health and fitness. If you have any major health risks or are over the age of 45, please seek the advice of a professional before engaging in strenuous exercise. Not only will this visit make you aware of any potential hazards you face, but it will also give you a reference point to gauge your progress.
The next step in creating a workout routine is to choose 2-3 days per week that you can fit a workout into your schedule. Remember to allow at least 1 day of rest in between workouts when you are getting started. Overexertion will cause diminishing results and opens the door for injury. As your level of fitness increases, so will the frequency and intensity of your work. Begin where you ARE, not where you want to be. During this beginning phase, it is recommended that you resistance train your full body and focus on cardio. In other words, this is a phase for building foundational strength in all of your major muscle groups while also strengthening the capacities of your heart and lungs for more intense training.
Before beginning any workout, it is vital that you take the time to stretch. Flexibility is essential to lowering the risk of exercise related injuries and increasing the effectiveness of your workout. Stretch all major muscle groups prior to exercising, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeating it 2-3 times. While stretching, avoid jerky motions and bouncing. This can cause damage that will actually make you less flexible and as with all portions of your workout, remember to breathe deeply.
After stretching, it’s time for some cardio. Simply walking is a good, low impact exercise for beginners. Biking, running, aerobics, stairclimbing and swimming are also good options. Swimming, in particular, is a great exercise. It is a fully body workout and puts very little pressure on the joints, lowering the likelihood of short-term and long-term injuries. Start with a 5-10 minutes warm up of your chosen cardio exercise. After the warm up, increase your intensity to slightly more difficult than what is comfortable for you and maintain that level for as long as you can, comfortably. Listen to your body. You may only be able to maintain this level for a few minutes but if you stay consistent, that will change. Make sure to take another 5-10 minutes to cool down before completely stopping. You have to give your heart a chance to slow itself down naturally.
The major muscle groups that you will be working are your arms, legs, chest and back and abs. With just a few exercises you can work all these areas well.
Pull ups are one of the most effective exercises you can do. They work your back and arms but they are difficult. If you can’t do one with proper form, you can pull yourself up as high as you can go and hold that position for as long as you can or ask someone to assist you until you can do them on your own. Chinups are basically pull ups with your palms facing you instead of away. They also work back and arms but put the focus more on the arms while the traditional pull up focuses more on the back. Pushups are an exercise staple and they work your chest, shoulders and arms. Go down, at least, until your arms are parallel with your shoulders. Going further can be an issue for those with shoulder or wrist problems. If you cannot do pushups on your toes, you can modify them and do them on your knees until you build your strength up. Squats work multiple leg muscles. Make sure to keep your back straight and heels on the floor and try to bend until your thighs are parallel with the ground. If you need it make it easier, simply sit down in a chair in a slow, controlled manner and stand back up without using your hands. Lunges also work multiple muscles in the legs. When you get in down into your lunge, try to get both knees into 90 degree angles and have your thigh parallel with the ground. There are many exercises to work the Abs. In fact, both squats and lunges strengthen your core. The thing to remember about ab work is that it WILL NOT burn stomach fat. Six-packs start in the kitchen. Exercise will jumpstart your metabolism but it must go hand in hand with a healthy eating lifestyle to see dramatic change.
This is just the first step but with a commitment to consistency, you will see the results you are looking for. Recruit friends and family to join you. Motivate each other. Let’s get fit. Together.
This is an article that was blessed to be in my Gmail inbox for my personal inspection. It is written for the illustrious Burning Spear by our brother, Lion, Khairi Akili. No disclaimer necessary. Please enjoy.
As technology-induced inactivity combines with the chemical and biological warfare of the food industry, we have seen a significant increase in obesity, particularly in the Afrikan community in america. To combat this, we are engaging the community through ReGYMental Fitness as our platform for retooling the perspectives of health and fitness with the understanding that the body and minds are gyms unto themselves. Inspired by other groups, such as The Bartendaz, The RBG Fit Club and our ancestors who stayed in shape and a state of readiness before there were such things as gym memberships, we have honed our focus on four areas of practice. These are organic fitness, vegan/raw diets, yoga and self-defense training.
Organic Fitness is defined by a program for reshaping the physique without the need for expensive equipment or a gym membership. Every exercise we do involves your own body weight. The equipment can be found at most city parks or can be modified for nearly any location. We get creative. This is an outdoor workout which comes with its own benefits and risks which will be explained later.
A vegan/raw diet is promoted to eliminate the immense hazards of processed food and meat bi-products and to also boost the energy levels by eating as many live foods as possible. This affects all areas of health, fitness and life in general. You will be amazed the transformations your body and mind go through with a change in eating habits.
Yoga is our method of increasing flexibility, core strength, posture and mental clarity. The practice opens up the range of motion and with increased flexibility unlocks muscle capacity. Core strength and posture add stabilization to the body while aiding proper breathing. Mental clarity not only increases problem solving ability but also allows us to use our bodies in the most efficient manner when called upon.
The final practice we have focused on is self-defense training. We have found it vital in honing discipline, fluidity of movement and acquiring basic techniques to defend Self, Family and Community. When it comes to this, discipline is everything. It is the underlying foundation of all work and success. Martial arts/sciences are a means of actualizing static power and we view defense as the hidden concept that brings full effectiveness to the trinity of Food, Clothing and Shelter.
ReGYMental Fitness is available 5 days a week and the people can come and go as they please. For our more dedicated members, we have compiled a book and media list which we come together once a week to discuss in an effort to further fortify the political education of our members while we strengthen their bodies.
Many have asked us, “Why exercise outdoors?” Although this question has many answers, the most important are it is widely available and IT’S FREE! Not everyone has access or funds for a gym membership but with our Organic Fitness regimen, you carry most of the gym with you and with a little creativity, you can find many everyday places to work out. Being outside also provides you a fresher supply of air and vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which strengthens your bones and builds your immune system. Also, scientists have concluded that exercising outdoors will improve your energy level, decrease stress and can even be used as a treatment for depression.
There is risk involved in any workout but outdoors comes with its own. Training in the elements requires some getting used to and temperature extremes can put extra stress on the body. Be sure to dress for the weather. In the cold, dress in layers and protect your hands, ears and feet with gloves, hats and thick socks. In the heat, make sure you have plenty of water, dress in loose, light-colored clothing and try to exercise in the early morning or evening. Most importantly, always listen to your body. If you don’t feel well, stop.
Remember: Health is wealth. We must invest in ourselves. The children are watching. Be an example.
Gatekeeping is based around creating a model of what is and what is not appropriate. In our white capitalist, Judeo-Christian, patriarchal imperialist society being rich (specifically the ability to buy without care), whiteness, some kind of Christian, and an adherence to hegemonic interpretations of gender are the models that are deemed as acceptable.
Our black societies due to the context of our development in America being stripped of our traditional cultures and our subsequent failures at mass re-signification have used the white frameworks in how we view ourselves. Obviously this is hugely problematic but even through these challenges a class Black elites has developed.
In preparation for writing this I picked up Our Kind of People: Inside the American Black Upper Class authored by Lawrence Otis Graham. As I look at the organizations like The Links, Jack and Jill, The Early Black Fraternities and Sororities AKA, DST, APA, OPP, and KAP; Prestigious Black Colleges like Howard, Spellman, and Morehouse, Fisk; and activities like Cotillions what these groups aim to do, and their organizational structure there is not a whole lot of substantive difference between organizations that would be classified as elite and organizations that would be classified as street.
I think someone would be hard pressed to find an organized group of black people anywhere that doesn’t have prosperity on the agenda. Personally, I admit with some reservations that I can’t get mad at folk doing well through hard work, planning, and foresight. In fact I applaud it. Starting business, pushing education and passing down wealth from one generation to the next makes sense.
So we have to ask Graham’s question: What are we mad at the black elite for?
For some it boils down to the most basic of political questions. What is the best way to live? But I think I can consider black anti capitalists to be in the vast minority. So the bulk of the problem with the black elite isn’t found there.
It is the hypocrisy of promoting a certain example of a particular politic of respectability and not diligently working towards a world where such things are achievable without arbitrary barriers. The lack of help and civic engagement towards that end diminishes exclusivity that functions to maintain the power and position of being the example of what black folk ought to aspire.
It ceases to be about an interpretation what black folk ought to do and turns into a caste system where the few are more worthy than the many. It stops being about advocating certain principles instead it becomes about establishing a framework where one can subordinate others.
Graham speaks candidly in his book about the exclusionary politics of the black elite social groups while claiming to promote black empowerment. He discusses arbitrary membership limits to create exclusivity, having the right financial ability to gain and maintain membership and the status consumerism expected of members. You have to ask yourself if these groups are about really serious about a model of black excellence why are all the resources going to the folks who have the least need for it?
Now obviously gatekeeping is not the sole province of folks within the Black elite, the premise is applied on a variety of levels however the attention is placed where it is because this is the dominant mainstream model we are bombarded with on a daily basis. We are pressured to consume for status purposes. We are pressured to want to achieve that elite status. Before we can confront the gatekeeping and the arbitrary barriers of the caste system it maintains we first have to ask, “Is this the best way to live?” and answer “No.”
This is a piece written by B. Sharise Moore for Our Asylum. It is one of those pieces that tends to draw a lot of attention here, so I would like to ask that you keep your debate cordial as defined by Asylum Staff and Owl. Any debate deemed outside of this prescribed cordiality will by erased and the commenter blocked from commenting in this post, and on probation from commenting in any other posts here.
There is no such thing as a “good public school.”
The notion is impossible given the oppressive system that pulls its purse strings.
The Preparedness Gap (not to be confused with The Achievement Gap)
The Achievement Gap refers to the disproportionate degree to which students from different ethnic groups perform, on average, on standardized tests. However, The Preparedness Gap, unlike The Achievement gap, takes into consideration outside variables, like poverty and access (or lack thereof), that play a large part in a child’s academic achievement. With that being said, the average child living in a Middle Class household arrives in Kindergarten having been exposed to ten thousand or more words than the average child living in poverty. Vocabulary is THE guiding measuring stick in early childhood education placement tests. A child’s vocabulary is the reference point to how, by whom, and even where a child will be educated. Many of our children are ENTERING school at a disadvantage. By age 6, many are either being pipe-lined to prison or being groomed for abject failure.
During my 9 years as a classroom teacher, my average class size consisted of about 25 students. (Last year I taught a Standard Level 8th grade Language Arts Class with 38 students. The school did not have enough desks to accommodate the number of students in our rooms.) The creation of classes of this size makes several assumptions. It assumes that the teacher delivering the instruction is a good classroom manager. It also assumes that each of the 25 (or more) pupils will enter the classroom with writing utensil and books in hand, quietly, on time, and ready to learn. More often than not, this is not the case. Unprepared teachers and unmotivated students exist. Distractions exist. And it is counterproductive to believe that a healthy, safe, and effective learning environment can be created among 25+ adolescent and/or prepubescent children without a great deal of support from parents, resource teachers, and the school’s administration.
Student to teacher ratio has been a concern for decades. It is directly affected by a school district’s budget as well as the availability of highly qualified teachers. In recent years it’s been no secret that school districts across the country have been the recipients of deep budget cuts. Those cuts have directly affected teacher salaries via furloughs, the disposal of cost of living raises, the retaining of support staff (paraprofessionals, classroom aids, resource teachers), and new hires. With the country still knee deep in a recession, the chances for relief look bleak.
Overemphasis on Testing
NCLB (No Child Left Behind) has played a major role in restructuring the American classroom. In the name of accountability, the law has grossly affected the way teachers teach, and I believe, the way students are learning. In short, NCLB uses a state mandated standardized test as a tool for meeting a predetermined group of tiered expectations in the core courses. After the test has been administered, the data is analyzed both wholly (the entire student body) and categorically. Students are grouped by socioeconomic class (Students who receive Free and Reduced Meals), ethnicity, disability (Students who receive services for Special Education), and ESL (English Language Learners). Their test scores are then measured against a predetermined cut score (The percentage of students who need a proficient score on the test is different for each group) that determines whether the child has scored Basic, Proficient, or Advanced in a given tested area. The total findings, which also include school wide attendance, determine whether or not the school has met the requirements for AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress).
The purpose of NCLB was to raise expectations of all children and to hold poorly performing teachers accountable. However, this has not occurred. Budget cuts have not allowed for new hires and have often resulted in cuts in Professional Development. School administrators are inundated with bureaucratic fires that need their constant attention. Classroom observations either rarely occur or do not occur at all. And all curriculum have been tailored to fit neatly inside the framework of the almighty standardized test. Even those who teach electives are required to include elements of the test within their art/music/drama/physical education, etc. subject areas.
The curriculum refers to what teachers teach. It is the framework of the subject matter at hand. It is the nuts and bolts of instruction and the basis for which tests are created. It is also, in most cases, Euro-centric in design, outdated, irrelevant, and disconnected to the holistic learning our children need. Not a single child should graduate from an American high school without knowing how to construct a resume. Not a single child should be able to graduate if he or she cannot balance a check book, understand percentages, or think critically. Something is wrong when nearly 40% of students are required to take remedial classes upon entering this country’s colleges and universities. Something has gone awry when America’s public schools graduate students who are oblivious of multiplication tables, incapable of articulating themselves effectively, or writing a complete sentence.
Where are the life skills? Where are the mathematical to real-life connections between store sales and improper fractions? Where are the multicultural characters in fictitious stories that look like the students we teach? Where is the relevance between schooling and living?
Many of our children aren’t prepared. They are all excessively assessed. Their classrooms are overcrowded. And they are being taught from an outdated curriculum that in many cases, isn’t and won’t ever be, relevant to their lives. We’re failing them. America’s schools are not adequately educating our children and I wonder if they ever have.
*B. Sharise Moore is a published author, performance poet, and certified secondary English teacher in the state of Maryland. She taught classes in English, Language Arts, Drama, Journalism, and French from 2002-2011.
I was alerted earlier this week, or even possibly the last one, that a phenomenal documentary exposing the problem areas of the United States’ educational system was to be released in theaters. I was asked to tune into Oprah, no go there, and I found myself attempting to find more information online. As the movie’s release approached, I was bombarded with information regarding the educational systems, teacher’s salaries, and a host of other maladies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to view the movie in its entirety, I was left to watch the trailers. (*cough*hands off the net*hack*).
The documentary, “Waiting For Superman”, as the trailer suggests, is a purview of the underlying asili of this nation, that only a certain portion of society is worthy of a thorough education. As prisons fill, and joblessness increases, so does the gap separating those that will be able to assist the country in an intellectual manner, from those that will be dependent upon them. It is no surprise to me that the antics of women ‘swirling’ around the net, promoting more division through the internet, than assistance plowed their way through twitter during this movie’s release.
Although, as stated, I haven’t seen the movie yet, a sister’s who’s twitter handle is @Chey_marly_mom was able to venture out and…well, I’ll let her discuss “Waiting for Superman” in her own words…
More like…”Waiting for America….”
If you have a pulse or are moderately abreast of current events, then chances are you have heard some of the buzz around the new documentary discussing this country’s education crisis, ironically entitled “Waiting for Superman”. I happened to catch wind of the film while reviewing this past Monday’s episode of Oprah. The documentary written and directed by Davis Guggenheim, features DC Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee; Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and other experts in education, as they chronicle the experiences of 5 real life families and the overwhelming problems facing America’s school system. As a mom with two children in grade school, I was glued to the TV and knew that I would make it my business to see this documentary for myself.
So after work yesterday evening, I ventured to “Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema”, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Before I go any further, I find it utterly ridiculous that a film with such presupposed importance and “must see” requisition, is playing in a handful of theaters (two in NYC to be exact) and in only two cities thus far (New York & LA)… How is a “ground breaking” film with Oprah’s seal of approval supposed to reach the masses and ignite a movement, let alone start a conversation if its release is limited? With that as a consideration, many people will likely not have an opportunity to see this documentary. However, I recommend that you view the trailer online and Google search the title to learn more about the film and the growing anticipation for it to be the stepping stone toward reforming America’s education system.
Spoiler Alert: There simply is no way to discuss or review this documentary without disclosing the premise. In a nut shell, America’s ENTIRE school system is failing and producing a generation of adults who are/will be ill equipped to perform this country’s most highly skilled jobs or even enter today’s competitive job market due to the incredibly poor/low achievement rates in math, science & literacy. The US currently ranks 25th in math and 21st in science, worldwide. Statistics strongly dictate that high school students are dropping out at alarming rates and that graduates are being set up to compete and FAIL in a shifting global job market they have not been equipped to compete in. In the film, failing high schools are sadly referred to as “drop out factories”. One distressing example from the film is Roosevelt High School in LA; where only 1 out of 100 seniors will meet college admissions standards & 54% of students overall will not graduate! In the past 40 years, out of 60 thousand students… 40 THOUSAND have dropped out. I wish I could reference all of the disturbing stats and figures that where evidenced. Unfortunately, my memory isn’t that savvy & frankly I was disgusted, heartbroken and consumed with the defeated faces of the students… while thinking of my own children.
The documentary introduced viewers to five real life families battling in the trenches of America’s education system. I was touched by them all and brought to tears by Bianca’s story. A kindergartner from Harlem whose mother Nakia was unable to afford the tuition for her daughter to continue attendance at her private school. As a result she was not permitted to walk in her graduation ceremony. They live in a community where the “zoned” (designated according to address zip code) public schools are depressed and failing. Nakia was laid off from her job which meant that Bianca would ultimately have to attend a school in her neighborhood or get lucky and win the “lottery”. Lottery: defined as… a gambling game or method of raising money, as for some public charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for certain prizes. Lottery: defined with regards to the education system, is an “opportunity” for a child to obtain an education at a Charter School (a school within or out of the community that is not pigeon held by district rules and regulations usually producing students with at a higher achievement rate than zoned schools). All five families in the film were subjected to this lottery process with the hopes they could “win” a chance for a promising future at their districts prized school; oftentimes located miles from their homes. The entire theater was still when the lottery process and results sadly displayed just how unfair the system currently is and how America has officially made education (once again) a civil rights issue. So much for “no child left behind…”
Education reformers such as Geoffrey Canada, DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, and Newark mayor Cory Booker, are on a campaign to remedy what is ailing the system. Each of them has made tremendous strides in reform that have been wonderful for SOME children. But there are clearly roadblocks in the system that’s preventing a significant overhaul. Unions such as the ACLU appear to be an impediment to even addressing some of the most obvious resolutions to the problems: firing bad teachers and paying great teachers their worth. [pullthis]Tenure, guaranteed pay to teachers for life– even if they go to prison, perform poorly or are under investigation for sexual accusations– is the REAL lottery, and needs to be re-evaluated.[/pullthis]
In the film, shifting around bad teachers from one school to the another school is referred to as the “dance of the lemons”, the “turkey trot” and “passing the trash”. On screen, teachers are depicted as animated figures floating and “dancing” on a map of the Milwaukee school system. Demonstrating in a satirical way how chronically bad teachers are traded among principals in different districts with the hope they can make “lemonade” with another school’s “lemon”. In New York City, over 100 million is spent annually paying out salaries & babysitting teachers who are up for review/suspension while they report to the city’s Re-Assignment Center, also known as the “Rubber Room”. They are seen reading news papers and playing cards while they wait for their hearing. The film goes on to divulge that in Illinois, “one in 57 doctors lose their medical licenses; one in 97 attorneys lose their law licenses; but for teachers, only one in 2,500 have ever lost their credentials.” Disgraceful!
The system is further entangled in a web of political ascendancy. Teachers unions such as the NEA and AFT are the largest political interest group and 90% of their donations are campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. Smh!!
So now what?
The truth has reared its ugly head and America is now going to reconcile these issues by any means necessary and expeditiously, right? *Not holding my breath* The problems are astounding. Sitting in the theater watching this documentary left me with the feeling of every word synonymous to defeat. As I previously mentioned, I have two children in grade school. My eldest daughter goes to a public Magnet school (public school with specialized courses or curricula) where she is an Honor Student and an Art major. My babygirl is in Pre-Kindergarten at a private school that my husband and I pay tuition for her to attend. I have a tremendous amount of concern for their futures and I have as much concern for their peers’ futures. EVERY child in this country is deserving of a competent & competitive education. The mediocrity of America’s education system is a criminal offense! How do the powers that be knowingly allow for the future of our children to be destined for inadequacy? The breakdown in the system appears to have begun decades ago although there seems to be some debate on the cause or source of its inception. And the problem is not immune to any one area in the country. In the film, Emily an 8th grader from a wealthier family living in an affluent LA neighborhood was desperate to attend the district’s Charter school because her college campus-like, state of the art zoned school, “track” student achievement levels; another issue plaguing America’s school system. Standardized tests as a measure of intelligence haven’t proven to be a successful metric of achievement. And I didn’t find it unusual that the question arose that whether the breakdown in (urban) neighborhoods are the CAUSE or RESULT of the failing education system. How many of us have been made privy to the implication that children in underdeveloped neighborhoods simply can’t learn or are not teachable? *sigh*
After viewing this film, one can’t help but wonder if the damage to the entire system is irreparable…? And none of what I have recounted diminishes the required responsibility of learning & achievement reinforcement in the home by any means. Parents have simply got to do better. On Friday’s Oprah Show, the topic was revisited with reactions from teachers & administrators such as Geoffrey Canada, and politicians with varied opinions on what was revealed in the documentary and what are we going to do as a result. A pledge was made by Newark mayor Cory Booker, the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg to further revitalize and repair the Newark school district under the leadership of Mr. Booker. Zuckerberg donated 100 Million dollars to that effort. Newark is on its way to potentially being a model for education reform in this country, while the rest of the country is waiting for…?
It is funny how over time, the same specious arguments find a way to reinvent themselves. During the 1960s Black Power Movement a young white man with ambitions and a destination for a seat in congress constructed a report. It would be historically referred to under his name: the Moynihan Report. In this white man’s mind, the problem with the Negro Family was the inability of black men to outperform black women. His stance was that there would be great improvements in the Negro condition if it were more patterned after other patriarchal societies. From that statement, many of our great minds – Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver come to mind most – promoted a culture of black hyper masculinity that significantly placed black women as the enemy. With due respect to bell hooks and her viewpoints, Michele Wallace who wrote “Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman” presents to us one of the only firsthand accounts of how black men in SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that spurned the leadership of Stokely Carmichael would joke about their offices being taken over by women, and how they would pass up the black women for white women. It is even telling that Eldridge Cleaver wrote of the black woman as the strong woman, yet dated a white woman. The stereotypes of that ear have extended themselves through the misogyny of rap music and media. And today, none other than the brilliant and scholarly Slim Thug voiced his opinion. And of course, because Slim Thug is such the sociologist and our champion of intellectual thought, we must consider his words.
What a lot people don’t want to accept about the submissive woman is that she was made. During the early days of the white race, female babies were considered a threat to survival and they were buried alive. We see this same pattern of behavior in the Arab history. During the early days of the US, white women were hunted down in what has come down through history as the witch hunts. To be a white male aristocrat meant that you had to have a submissive female show piece. The ideal of the woman as the show piece has made it past all of the work of the women’s liberation movement somehow. Another tidbit of history that seems to escape most radars is the fact that women – and yes, your precious white women as well – had to work just as hard as the men during feudal Europe and during the beginnings of this country if they were not wealthy. The ideal of the submissive white woman still exists because of the media being controlled by the same sorts of men that conjured up the ideal. So why are black men still so easily mislead about these things?
During our struggle for human rights in this country, we forgot about true revolution and settled for an inkling of manhood. It was cool that we could just be considered cool. No, we don’t need any land to till, let’s just be recognized for having big dicks and athletic prowess. Who cares that we have no national independence? That people cross the street when we approach them? The fight for black self-determination became an acceptance of hyper masculinity as manhood. It is not strange that the brother Slim Thug would take on the imagery of the “thug” that has become the warped and sensationalized caricature of the black man as a warrior and survivor. It is not strange that the same term that Tupac used has been misshapen and misconstrued on so many levels. It was misconstrued before Tupac by those that raised him and protected his mother. There are very important points to consider in the pro however. In Slim Thug’s statements, there is an overall general problem we all need to consider. His anecdote of a friend that chastises him often because he dates a “submissive” white woman overshadows all that could be worthy of discussion. Furthermore, he insists that his woman’s more submissive side is because she is half white. His full statements found here.
I have no problem with interracial dating, although as I have stated in the past, a culture of interracial dating in a society controlled by white males could be dangerous if the American Black is truly set on being an ethnic designation. Simply put, if we are to all seek out white mates, then soon there will be fewer and fewer American black genetic phenotypical traits in the society. Whether this is of importance to you makes no difference; the reality is in the math. We also should take note that this division of family and division of black male and black female has taken on higher precedence in the media. We watch shows such as “Girlfriends” produced by a white Jew and watch a main character, a middle class black woman, settle on a white man, as her friends go through black male after black male. Now, we have a black male who is a representative of the hyper masculine black culture continuing this propaganda against black women.
It has been stated that history repeats itself. I truly hope not. From what I have read about being black in this country, my miniscule pains and trials are nothing compared to what the majority of American blacks once endured. I hope that we all can read more of our history and understand the precise indoctrinations that have extended them to us through time. If we are to overcome anything on a level beyond symbolism, we must consider the origin of many of our thoughts. The paradigm is worthy of change.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about unity. Mainly organizations and working with others. I find that I can work with others to a degree. It is like the minute we start getting too personal then it happens. And in the back of mind I’m playing this video of all the times I’ve had to deal with personalities that I clashed with. As the type of person that seems to get his kindness taking for granted, I have to constantly be on the watch for people who like to put boxes around you. Which I tend to believe is very normal, actually. Humans need a high level of repetition to feel comfortable, further we are socialized to be competitive. That creates a situation where people want to size you up, mentally comparing you to people that they have met in the past in order feel a sense of balance. Which is all fine and dandy, but when it comes to manipulation, my tolerance is real low.
Malcolm X states that he looked at Elijah Muhammad as a father. He states that he felt betrayed. Sometimes I revisit that thought as I enter into relationships with people. I once spoke with a brother that discussed leading and following with me. Many feel in order to be a good leader; you have to be a good follower. I tend to agree, however, I also notice that most people telling others that are in the leadership position, and aren’t even trying to follow half of their own tenets. My acquaintance simply related to me that he had reached the point where he simply didn’t want to be harnessed anymore. To “harness” means, “to tie together”. And I understood exactly what he meant. It is quite appropriate to have a vision, and to even seek out those to assist you in carrying that out, as I discuss in my eBook, The Better You. Someone is willing to assist you in bearing that load. I am not as aggressive in my leadership, more of a magnet than a gun, so I have a difficult time accepting aggressive leadership and demands on my time. I dislike being taken for granted, and I don’t like having my identity nullified by what other feel I ought to be doing. Working a job is one thing, pay me to do a service, I’ll do it. At the end of the day, I go home. I don’t like corporate bodies. I’m not trying to be a part of your “professional family” that I can be fired from. I would rather export my expertise, pick up my money, and bid you a fair ado.
I feel the same way with unity. I’d rather say solidarity, but we can interchange them as this thought progresses. I don’t have to believe like you to be working on the same causes as you. I don’t have to wear all black to feel a part of the pro-black movement. In fact, let’s discuss that. I am not black by virtue of anything other than the trading of bodies that occurred during the birth of this nation. The whole notion of race for me is ambiguous, but I understand the social pressure. If you have whites who will toss my application away because it says “black”, then I need to be working with other blacks. In order to ward off the economic and social ills of white power, I am forced to align myself with those who I’ve been categorized with. Although, I strongly believe that in order for a group of people to stay bonded, they should share some cultural norms and ideological percepts, as we say in dominoes…mine don’t fit. And for the most part, I’d rather not have anyone force their beliefs on me, no matter what. Certain sacrifices I can no longer afford.
I am a pretty bright guy. I don’t have to speak to shine. My gifts don’t require me to play in any popularity contest. My personality doesn’t need any extra wattage. What I have seen in the few black organizations I have been a part of, are these very things. I’ve watched people run out of meetings screaming that we need to do this and do that, and upon further reflection, I came to understand that to mean, “since I’m only good at this particular act, it is the most important one–thus you should follow me!!” I’ve heard the whispers in the pews of elder members, “They think they white…” Let me take a moment with that one.
This whole notion of a “real” black person has saturated and in my opinion, tainted the very fabric of every movement it has birthed. What I have found is that most don’t want unity or solidarity of purpose, they want control. In that same vein, those that wish to label you as not being “black” enough, or the new one that has cropped up, you are “too black”, seek to control you as well. In a world of transparency by surveillance, it is often difficult to for one to express their self honestly, because everyone either wishes to put you in a box, or assassinate your character. That is not something I’m always comfortable with.
I enjoy expressing myself a bit too much for the normal crowd. I don’t want you in my business, mainly because I don’t need your judgments. You can barely think without regret, what makes me think I’ll get a good hearing in your courtroom? Many American Blacks are swept away by this notion of white unity. There really was none though. There were blacks and there were poor whites that needed to be harnessed by rich whites. This is your unity. You had landowners that had prospered and no longer wished to be taxed by England. Grand discussions and noble ideas were written in timeless documents, but the spirit was superficial. Unfortunately, for me, symbolic gestures are like masturbation. I say that this is unfortunate for me, because like Obama, you realize real quick how important symbolism means to most of the population of earth. There are way more metaphysicians than scientists. More “healers” than doctors.
Too many con artists and not enough truly skilled at the art of earning and deserving our confidence…
Personally, I’m getting tired of writing about negative events that occur in the Black Community. I might start writing about family reunions and barbeques. This constant pouring over of heinous acts and just savage behavior can’t be good for my rehabilitation. Where is superpresident when you need him…?
You know the question was raised about the culture of males. For me that would immediately mean American Black males, but the stories abound in all communities. And although many of the crimes involve women and girls as suspects and perpetrators, the acts all stem from the male culture of hyper masculinity and oversexualization. The headers all read similarly:
Although the circumstances of each is different, what we are seeing is a pattern of gang related, or collective male demonstrations of violence and rape that stigmatize the community. The stigma helps to legitimize the historical culture of police brutality. As a media analyst, it is difficult for me not to point to the prominent images of black males as superniggers and black girls and women as ultra-sexual objects.
The historical portrayal of Black women in American culture and media has always been that of the sex toy. Regardless of figures such as Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and even Oprah Winfrey, the media continues to present us with Halle Berry’s and “Superheads”. The idea that women are “eye candy” and for the most part just gyrating bodies, “bitches and hoes”, has promoted a culture that deems the rape of a seven year old by a suspected 5 males ranging from ages 13 to 20 as acceptable.
If I may be so allowed to step outside of the objective, and ask, “How does a seven-year young child ever look sexually appealing to a 13 year young, let alone a 17 year young?” The forcible rapes should be punished by death squads, and deep in my heart I believe so should the touching. There is something sick and twisted about the whole idea that causes me to tremble inside. At what point does this all become acceptable behavior? The savagery of group behavior is well studied and documented, but the degree of pure immorality haunts me.
In the same vein, you have young boys and girls, some above the age we tend to regard one another as adults, recruiting young girls for prostitution. I remember watching Steve Cokley ask his audience would the women there be willing to have sex with someone for the revolution. If I were a women in that room, my immediate response would have been, “Nigga would you?” It seems to be a mentality even within the ranks of women that the female body is simply a sexual tool. For the American Black woman that is infinitely truer as her history in the US has always forced her to be at the disposal of male aggression. Even in R & B, which once placed the American Black woman on a pedestal, we see Usher with Niki Minaj soliciting a woman for multiple partner sex. Obviously pimping ain’t dead, as the ring of gang members beat and forced high school age girls to ”get out there and make that money”. Brutalizing those that were tired or hadn’t met a daily quota of $500. Money and sex, male aggression and more raped black sisters. The US just doesn’t change.
The degree of inhumane behavior only gives more and more credence to military style police involvement. After the rape of the seven-year old, the apartment complex was raided. Reports say that the arrests involved mostly women with minor infractions being yelled at and asked, “What happened to the little girl?” In what was reported to be the attempted arrest of a 34-year young accused of slaying JeRean Blake, half his age, a home was raided in a military fashion. That particular incidence of bloodshed led to the flash grenading of a residential home and the subsequent murder of Aiyana Jones by the police. The police and FBI are seen here “gathered at a former National Guard armory to prepare for a raid of more than 36 homes”. The pattern is quite clear.
From the destruction and terror of the communities of Negro Wall Street, to the destruction and terror of the communities within the MOVE organization, to the legitimized destruction and terror of black communities nationwide. From the caricature of the Buck, to the portrayal of the Black male as Buck in movies such as “The Birth of A Nation”, to the media portrayal of the black militant movements of the sixties, to the release of “Colors” and the advent of the “Gangster rapper” to the “gangster” rapists and pimps. From criminalization to criminal. From slave patroller to military style invasion legitimized by the behavior promoted through so many channels.
How long will the nigga gene be acceptable? We’ve already reached a class breach where many in the middle class are too far removed from the slayings and the raping to understand the need for more education, more investors in the community, more jobs, and more vehicles for the expression of masculinity to be based upon. A sadistic and criminal culture of capitalism will only create a sicker, more sadistic culture of capitalism where capitalism has failed to be a viable system of economy and thought. As long as boys feel inadequate being intellectuals without having to play the role of the “thug” or “pimp” or “player”, then the “thugs”, the “pimps” and “players” are not going anywhere. Apart of human behavior is the desire to procreate, and that drive dictates a behavior that will allow boys growing into men, to be selected by women. If the women aren’t truly happy with what they see in the community of males, choose more wisely. Stop feeding the culture the attention it needs to breed. Or watch more and more young girls being victimized. Watch more and more young boys find themselves dead or incarcerated until death.
Men have to be better role models. The “do or die” culture comes from the “ride or die” culture of the black power movement. The need for approval, the need for acceptance based on aggression has got to be worked on. Black people really are blessed that the suicidal culture stops at killing others before killing oneself. The minute that changes, a whole new problem will be bred. We are too hard. So hard that just being hard is acceptable. The male susceptibility to attention from the opposite gender has gone from niggas with attitude to niggas with their pants hanging off their butts. We are capable of altering and defining masculinity in ways that don’t have to boil over into sexual aggression. That doesn’t boil over into massive homicides. That doesn’t boil over into our homes destroying children’s lives. Sure, you need a defensive and capable manhood, but don’t let the superficial dictate. Marcus Garvey asked where are your men of industry, not where are your pimps, and dope dealers and brothers that want to look like a pimp and drive around dressed like a dope dealer. Not men with professional jobs who use the vernacular of the dope dealer and wish to act like the pimp, while turning their noses up at the real pimps and dope dealers. Stop being so comfortable with just being a nigga.
The massive bloodshed and pure lack of human life was the Black story as written by White America. Time for a new author…
Interesting enough is the particular identification with the “ghetto”, or “hood”. This internalizing of poverty as an expression of “survivor”, you know(won’t go away without effort, I swear)? There is this sense of achievement of just saying you lived in a particular neighborhood, even if the person is still living there. Many have this need to blame the environment, and yet are determined to hold on to it. Define themselves by it.
There is a major sense of pride that comes with that. In the same way that soldiers or people who have been in the military during occupations and wars might point to a medal, or mention the particular operations they were a part of. We even hear it, “I’m a ghetto vet”. Now, would that be a domestic occupation? And for some, being a “thug” is an occupation! And although I’m being slightly facetious, there is something in A) the reality for some that there is a war occurring on US soil, and B) the overall comodification of the urban male/female image.
To be certain, it would be wise of us to realize that the image isn’t a new one. Nor is it for the most part an organic one as opposed to a manufactured one. The same sorts of behavior projected through time that were once used to make the American Black seem animal like, or less civilized, have been used to criminalize them. What would once be considered highly offensive, propagandistic, and in many ways inhumane, is now widely accepted as the way it is. It is just “keeping it real”. In many ways it is a pattern of how some might even want it. For some, it is just a joke, depending on who is telling it of course.
Granted, the notion that stereotypes are exaggerations of possible truths may have some validity. The roles that we choose to adopt to express native ability, or even gender, are often given to us by those who have an interest in promoting a particular image. There is market for a Queen Latifah to be a cover girl, or even for women to adopt the ideal of “Barbie”. There is something telling when we see a personality such as Monique exerting herself, comically or otherwise, to replicate the movements of Beyonce. As if to say yes, it is “F— skinny b—-es, but we still can dance like you.”
So, it would seem as though, if the stereotype doesn’t apply, or if the role presented by the image is difficult to maintain, a certain insecurity is developed. In that insecurity it seems that overcompensation occurs. Or humiliation, whichever comes first. Even in a Kanye West, a black male rap icon that admits to dressing like a homosexual there is a need to reflect the images of what might be the stereotypical rapper. Although, Kanye is in a league of distinguished gentlemen, we find him posing with his hands on his girlfriend’s butt holding a bottle Hennessey. Later in the same night, after possibly enjoy the said bottle cognac, he upstages, as part of his normal award show routine, Taylor Swift while giving her acceptance speech.
For black males in the urban community there is no Marlboro man to consider. But there is the “real nigga”. Not only is there the difficulty of simply being a man, and whatever standards come with that, there is the need to push beyond “real” man, into a role that society has been taught to fear. The athletic professional must not only be skilled in the techniques of their sport, but highly aggressive, demeaning, and often wrought with a lifestyle that mimics rappers mimicking what is perceived as the drug lord’s lifestyle. Which can get confusing these days, as many drug lords are mimicking rappers and athletes.
The need to not only possess that traits commonly held as masculine, there seems to be the desire to adopt the projected roles. You can’t just be highly talented basketball player, you’ve got have guns, and be seen with an entourage of “friends” from the dreaded “hood”. You can’t just be a brilliant scholar, a political phenom, a gifted orator, you’ve also got to have Ludacris on your ipod, play basketball, walk with a limp, and eat at the local grease pit. You can’t just hold a phd in theology or philosophy, and boast of intelligent works, you’ve got to be able to recite Nas’ discography.
Even as the black man with the most respect and fear in the world, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit the description. You’ve got to have that nigga gene…
I have really grown in so many different directions over the past few years.(Looking at my stomach, seems like in more ways than one. Better start hitting that gym, again.)
But jokes aside, I’ve noticed a certain slant in my thinking these days that I’ve called others “sell out” and “elitist” for having in my younger thinking. (Well, after a quick scan, it wasn’t that long ago, but stay with me.) I’m still a supporter of the idea of separation, and I’m still hopeful about pan-Afrikan ideals beyond the superficial dashiki tossed over a polo shirt and a few KiSwahili terms tossed about. I just don’t want to be in this box any longer. Granted, I don’t play well with the other grown children, but I refuse to fall into these cultural identifiers that I have really never been into. I give enough credence to my hypermasculine childhood and whatever ghosts I’ll probably never shake that came from that. But where is the point in your life where conformity ends, you begin? You know what I’m talking about(I did it a damn gin!!)
I am not talking about behaving in ways that make you feel as though you have risen above the class standards either. I’m discussing complete idiosyncratic expressions without the 3000 behind it though. I can always come back to where I am from. I don’t even know if I want to though. Is that “selling out”? Why is it? I’m no bible thumper, I am partially atheist, but I think the quote from in the book Bible is fitting here,”There is no Prophet without honour except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own home.”
Now, am I a “prophet”? I don’t fucking know. Is there a class I have to take to get certified for that? Oh, let me not offend the spiritualist before I curse out the “Goddess” again. Oh, and let me not offend my “black nationalist” brethren, I realize I don’t need the “white man’s” certification for everything. Everyone needs to exercise some experience building. Nothing insular is beautiful. Look at your heart. Not your damn “astral” heart!! I mean the one that is beating inside you. The one that is actually keeping you alive. The one that doesn’t need your “ego”, doesn’t need that “you”, or “I”, conscious functionality. You can’t. YOU CAN’T LOOK AT YOUR OWN HEART. It is insular. I lived like that.
Sometimes you have to explore new horizons. I’ll always be me. You know(GOT DAMN IT!!)? I’m like Jay-Z in some ways, I’ll probably never change. I’m at peace with that. But I’d like to get outside of the ideological and cultural paradigms that have kept me in prison long after I walked away from that hell you all call “paying dues to society”(What a fucking joke!!). But what makes those behaviors “black”? Everything I hate about myself, others call “acceptable”. My cousin seems to think my habits make me tough. He boasts about my past life as if that shit won me an oscar(Oh, fuck!! No, you dashiki by Ralph Lauren wearing fucker, I don’t think every white socially applauded construct is needed to make me feel confident…). And I often have to remind him, to one, fucking “grow up”(As in maturity, no one but the incredibly shrinking woman can grow down), and two, hell, that wasn’t me any damn way.
This culture of hypermasculinity. It is real. I beg those that argue with me to come down on 25th and State in E. St. Louis and take a walk with me. I am sure the experiment will prove my hypothesis.
We have lost that love for intellectualism. We want “Tupac with a degree”. Let me tell you something, “Tupac with a degree” is as broke as a car that only drives in reverse, and spent most of his time in college sleeping in the library hoping he could write five papers in one night. Don’t belittle the efforts of the scholar because undergrad wasn’t shit. That BA or BS doesn’t qualify much in my humble but highly passionate opinion. I walked in class and noticed those who didn’t say much, and those who were still high from the last night. I know how easy it is to “slide” through classes. I was doing 18 credit hours a semester, so I know who was in the library every night and every morning, and I know who was on the yard asking to see whose paper. Even at the university level many of us just don’t have a respect for learning.
Academic or not.
I was in a discussion with this doctor I really shouldn’t be lusting after, but sorry, intelligent women make my blood vessels run to the tip of my penis like black militants running to help a white girl out of her car in the sixties(alright, old joke, couldn’t help myself). The discussion surrounded her feelings about “street knowledge”. Now, she’s a sister that grew up in middle class US and didn’t do the “date a thug” thing, so her term “street knowledge” is in reference to black militant rhetoric. And I was sort of taken aback. I am not sure if she knows my history, and so I asked her, and her response was to the effect of, black people who accept any form of information without doing research have been pimped. Now after she said that I envisioned my tongue touching every nerve on the top of her clit for like five hours, but instead I simply agreed.
We got bonded. We got attached to the rhetorical. We figured out ways to survive without knowledge so long that it became a joke. I respect all the brothers and sisters who are coming to the US in pursuit of higher education. I fear that American Blacks will be thrust into a lower class permanence such as the “untouchables” of India. And that is why I have to get out of this damn box.
I’ve tried everything. I’ve seen it your way. I’ve done the “black” thing so long I’ve become a fucking parrot, YOU KNOW(alright, I can understand that)? How many people are there out there like me? How many children? Whose son is about to make the same insane choices I made trying to adapt to a culture that is insane to begin with? I didn’t go to college to become a musician, I went because I like making lights flash on this blinking box. Then I said, hey, I also like writing things on this blinking box. And now…I want to know how our brains started blinking, and how it blinks, and why it blinks.
Hell, I’ve done what most said I couldn’t my whole life, why can’t I? Ain’t that BLACK?